Following Up After A Job Interview

6 Tips For Following Up After A Job Interview

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If you’re not using the best, most effective methods of following up after a job interview, you’re missing out on the chance to score some easy points that just could push you over the top and out of the unemployment line.

Make sure you’re going above and beyond to impress interviewers and secure the job. Here are some guidelines for the perfect interview follow-up strategy.

1. Sooner Is Better

In a recent CareerBliss Poll asking how soon people follow up after a job interview, 39 percent of respondents said they do it the next day. Good answer, according to Career Expert, Vicky Oliver.

Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, said the best time to reach out after an interview is within 24 hours. The 61 percent of poll respondents who said they wait two to three days, a week or never follow-up should take note.

“If you’re incredibly lucky,” Oliver said, “the interviewer will hit the e-mail back to you saying she/he really enjoyed meeting you and – voila! – now you’re in the running! These rules apply even if an executive recruiter helped you land the interview.”

2. The 3-Paragraph Rule

Your follow-up e-mail should be short, sweet and personalized. Generally, a good rule of thumb for the length is three paragraphs, with no more than two to three sentences in each paragraph.

  • First Paragraph: Briefly thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position.
  • Second Paragraph: Discuss a couple of your strengths and how the company would benefit if you were hired. Consider using bullet points to break up your text.
  • Third Paragraph: Include any points of clarifications you might have. Include answers to questions that you weren’t able to answer during the interview, or add new info about yourself that was left out of the interview. But, remember, keep it brief.

Oliver suggests indicating your next point of contact by saying something along the lines of “Look forward to hearing from you within the next two weeks.” If no date was set at the interview, either ask for one or specify you will loop back to them for a decision in two weeks.

3. Splurge On The Good “Thank You” Paper

Sending a hand-written thank you note via snail mail adds a charming touch, and further showcases your gratitude for their time. Go all out for this gesture. Practice your handwriting. Splurge and spend the extra money for high-quality paper – it will show prospective employers you value their time, and also will speak well of your attention to detail.

4. Double Check Their Names

Candidates should “double check the spelling of the interviewer’s name, his or her title, and the address of the company,” Oliver said. While you’re at it, don’t forget to spell-check the entire letter – both e-mail and snail mail. These steps may seem obvious, but all too often minor spelling and grammatical blunders get through, making the candidate look careless.

5. Avoid Follow-Up Faux Pas

After you have written your notes, double check to ensure that you have avoided these common mistakes:

  • Repetition
  • Negativity
  • Cheesy emoticons and exclamation points
  • Informal language
  • Grammar/spelling errors

6. Don’t Call Them, They’ll Call You

Usually, toward the end of an interview, hiring managers will indicate a general time for when they will contact you. If this was not addressed, be sure to ask them to give you an idea in your initial follow-up e-mail. Only call the employer if that date has passed. Call any time before then and you will come off as desperate and bothersome.

What are your thoughts? Are there other tips for following up after a job interview?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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10 comments

  1. I am so glad to find these simple, yet extremely helpful tips. I recently was called in for a job interview after applying a week earlier. Day 1: My first interview was at 930am, where I met with the Office Manager, the interview lasted until 11:15am and prior to leaving I was asked to return that same afternoon to meet the Doctors who “I” would be working for. I was told to arrive at 5:45 and that it would be a quick introduction. The second interview lasted 30 minutes and the following morning (Day 2) I received a call from the Office Manager asking me to email her a list of references. Shortly after, I heard from 2 of my references saying they had been contacted. It is now Day 3 (Friday), I do not want to appear pushy or contact too soon, I hope the above tips for making contact with 24hours can mean “business hours” because of the weekend Is it ok to send snail mail, arriving at their office on Monday?!? Thanks for all the tips and previous comments.

  2. Thank you all for sharing your experiences in order to assist others in the very near future. From reading the article and all of the replies from other readers. I can say that you can learn a great deal from everyone’s experiences. I know from my own experience and landing my own employment for over 10 years that all of the above worked for me then. I strongly believe that you should be diligent on doing your homework on learning about the history of the company; what they are looking for in hiring you and make sure you stand out from everyone else. Be yourself; be engaged, show confidence and always follow through by following up either email; mail get a feel from the interviewing process on how they feel about emails; you will find not many will have time to read your email. I strongly believe that many would be impressed these days with a personal touch. You will know what is appropriate. Good luck.

  3. I recently went through two interviews and completed a take-home compatibility test for a paid summer internship. The first interview, with the owner/president, went extremely well. He then brought in the HR VP to continue the interview. I left with a take-home test to complete and return, which I did (the interview was on a Friday, and I scanned the completed test in to my computer and sent them as PDFs Sunday night). On Monday, I received an e-mail thanking me for quickly returning the test. On Friday, I was called to for a second interview on Monday. Monday’s interview went extremely well. I spent time with the department head and his employee, the owner/president and the VP of HR. The owner/president told me I had absolutely crushed the test, which they have very strong belief in as an indicator, and that I was not only someone they would like to hire, but also a strong candidate with the potential to promote. The VP of HR then said that they would like to hire me and she would have an offer to me soon, as well as explaining the process of background check and signing non-compete agreements, etc. At this point, all indications pointed to having secured the position. At home, I sent a thank-you to HR as well as the department head. The department head and his underling also e-mailed me with more information about the position and asked for clarification about my current schedule (currently I am in school two days a week until finals next week. They implied interest in starting me part-time until the end of the semester, going full-time through the summer and part-time when I resume class in the fall). Those conversations (via e-mail) occurred within a day or two of the second interview. The rest of the week came and went, hearing nothing. Monday, after having had a full week had pass since the second interview, I began to get anxious. I began doing research on the internet, asking family, friends and professors when I should follow up. Everyone’s advice was different, ranging from a few days after the interview to over two weeks, as well as the method of following up (e-mail/telephone, HR or Department head). Eventually I e-mailed HR asking for a status update and restating my interest. It is now Friday, 9 business days after the second interview, and I have heard nothing.

    I am wondering what to do. Should I call? If they have decided not to hire me, what is the likelihood of them notifying me. This is definitely a potential possibility, because I have been convicted of a DUI and driving on a suspended license, even though that is not relevant to the position and I was not asked to disclose the information at any point. If that is the case, I can understand that, and even if they do not cite that as a reason for passing on me, I would like to know if I am still in consideration or not.

  4. Hi – I like the article and agree….with most of it. The follow up on paper, in my opinion, is outdated. A more powerful follow-up, in addition to a thank you email, is related to how you use social media to remain relevant in today’s fast-paced, “create YOUR brand” world.

    I write and publish my own blog “The Learning and Social Media Cafe.” When I follow up with prospective clients and employers, I attach a relevant article from my publication (and of course, the link to get there). Your ‘brand’ extends well beyond your LinkedIn profile, Twitter, etc. Demonstrating that you have relevance…after the interview…could very likely be the the deciding factor in securing that job.

    Cheers!

    Ryan

  5. Thank You notes matter and yes, pick up nice stationary at an office supply place and while you are there, pick up nice resume paper. While most of the hiring process is digital these days, you still need to bring copies of your resume to the interview and having it on nice paper is one more way to help you stand out from the competition.

    Make sure at the end of the interview that you ask what their hiring process is (when they plan to hire someone)and what the typical response time is. By asking this you will have a better understanding of how long the overall process should take and it also lets the employer know (one more time) that you seriously want the job opportunity. Don’t assume that they know.

    Always, always, always send out Thank Yous and one to each person who interviews you (never a group Thank You). Also, I have known hiring managers who have saved Thank Yous and have pulled them out a year later to reach out to a candidate who previously didn’t get the job about a new position. In today’s job market it is all about setting yourself apart from the competition and Thank You notes are an easy way to do this.

    Good luck on your job search and well wishes for a great 2013!

  6. Alena,

    Thank you for feedback. Glad to hear that thank you notes worked for you. My experience is complete opposite. I never received even one response after following up after interview-just the rejection. I guess it depends on the organization’s hiring habits. And probably hiring people being overwhelmed with endless work. This lack of reciprocity is what makes my previous comment so negative. I don’t like lack of reciprocity. If I have not way of knowing if my note was even read-why bother? Sure the next interviewer just might actually respond but this hope is not enough for me.

  7. Regarding the idea of a thank you card…when I was looking for a job, I would always send out a thank you card. If there was more than one interviewer, I would send one to each person individually.(I remember seeing my card on the desk of my employer after I was hired.)

    I may not have been the candidate they chose, but I felt good about doing it. I knew that there are many reasons for not getting a position – it was only after truly getting to know myself, my strengths and my passions did I find the right fit for me.

    Perhaps employers are just really intuitive at seeing who would and who would not be a good fit for their organization.

    Skill sets only go so far – interpersonal skills are critical. My credo – know yourself (be honest and become more self-aware), be yourself (don’t fake it and don’t lie) and show yourself (in an interview, demonstrate your accomplishments and strengths to the interviewer.)

    Another thing that I did was to change my mindset – it is not about what I need, it is about what the ORGANIZATION needs – and what skills that I can bring to the table to address those needs.

    Good luck in 2013!

  8. One of the tips suggests splurging on nice paper? You are kidding, right? No one cares! Whether you use paper made out of gold and write in cursive or use your laptop to type up a note, this will be ignored. The hiring people simply follow directions from above and they will care less about details if one person is better than the other person who wrote a gorgeous thank you note. Why not just write a simple note with no extra stuff? Like I want to spend money just to increase the very slim chance of it influencing someone. I got better things to spend it on!

    I saw another article that told me to not mention my strengths or how I can help a company in a thank-you note. Instead, I am supposed to thank the interviewer, state what I enjoyed talking about the most (meaning, them talking, not me) and then thank them again. This article is complete opposite of the one I read.

    I am also tired of experts telling me how to do stuff and saying it will work. For example, the point about following up is baloney. If I am told that the firm will contact me in two weeks, I will call them sometime during the third week. Otherwise, they forget about me – I am still waiting to hear back from an organization where I interviewed-in September 2012! Today is 1/1/2013!

    This article is useful, yes, but I want proof these things work! Instead of asking for experts to parrot each other, why not invite actual job seekers who actually succeeded in being hired after writing fabulous thank you notes in calligraphy? I need proof, not another reiteration.

    It is true that each interview is different and you never know if even an ordinary thank-you note just might make a difference. This has not happened to me yet. But I want to hear true stories of thank-you notes working. Otherwise, what is the point of writing one if no one ever reads it?

    • In response to the writer who wants proof of having been hired as a result of Thank Yous; here’s your proof…I have been. And while I do not like to admit it, the writer is correct, the chances of being a standout to a hiring manager based upon this “antiquated” gesture though charming it is, is slim. However, during these economic times, keeping manners, however old-fashioned they may be in this age of instant rice, instant oatmeal, instant e-mail, etc., it IS a standout. It absolutely makes the interviewer notice that someone took the time (you know how long it takes to cook non-instant rice right?) and keeps your image in their head…but more importantly it is because your interview was outstanding and your were memorable. The Thank You just solidifies the mental image and your resume, application paperwork, etc. will most likely be placed on the top of the stack of “maybes.” Of course, in my case, it was in the “yes” stack.

      As for splurging on the “good paper” if you can afford it, then do it. I agree that it is attention to details that do get many people’s attention. But in any event, even a quick Thank You whether you are doing the 3 paragraph rule as outlined in this article or what you read in another, the whole point is for YOU to stand out and be separated from the rest. It certainly can’t hurt.

      Hoping 2013 unfolds to a better year than the last few.

    • Yuriy, with all due respect, your post comes across as highly frustrated and negative. If that’s coming out, even a little bit, to hiring managers and/or interviewers, then I’m not surprised that you’ve having trouble finding a job.

      You don’t want to do what experts tell you will work; is that attitude coming across in interviews? Are you presenting yourself as someone who always knows best, who doesn’t consider other peoples’ opinions and advice, and who will always blame the other person?

      I was hired for two different jobs at two different companies, in part because the hiring managers thought that it was polite and professional that I sent a thank-you card after the interview.

      And FYI, if a company hasn’t gotten back to you in 4 months, they haven’t “forgotten” about you – they chose not to hire you. It’s rude of them to not inform you of that fact, but that’s the fact. Accept it and move on.

      I hope you’re able to find a job soon!

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